A new convention to put an end to the manufacture of counterfeit medicines and their sales, both commercially and online, is being drafted by the European Council. This was revealed to AFP, by an European expert.
"The convention is aimed at protecting the public health system and individuals," Hugo Bonar from the Irish Medicines Board and an EC expert said on the sidelines of the Fourth Meeting of the Internet Governance Forum at the Egyptian Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh.
The EC will start inviting states to sign the convention in 2010, after its formal adoption.
"The global nature of the Internet makes it an excellent way to promote health literacy. However, it also implies risks the new convention will address, such as the marketing of medicines and healthcare products that can be dangerous," the EC said in a statement distributed at the IGF.
The convention will oblige states to criminalize "the manufacturing of counterfeit medical products, supplying, offering to supply, and trafficking in counterfeit medicinal products... and similar threats to public health," the statement said.
The problem of counterfeit drugs is multi-layered, involving the high demand, the lack of legislation as well as geographical challenges.
"The counterfeit products are sometimes made in China, but the websites selling the goods come from Eastern Europe and Russia," one participant, who declined to give his name, told AFP.
Over 1,500 representatives of government, advocacy groups, non-governmental organizations and the private sector have been gathered since Sunday at the Red Sea resort for the four-day conference to discuss the future of the Internet.
"Counterfeiting of medicines can be very lucrative. And since many countries have not yet enacted deterrent legislation, counterfeiters often do not fear prosecution," the World Health Organization said in a statement.